Long live the chicken finger

http://news.nationalpost.com/the-kids-menu/

http://news.nationalpost.com/the-kids-menu/

Tyranny of the chicken finger: How we created a generation of unsophisticated, picky eaters — and why the cycle must stop | National Post.

This article is strikingly familiar. It’s almost as if the writer is describing my childhood. My parents didn’t cater to me, I was simply a pain in the ass. I left them little choice but to give in to my bland taste in food which could easily be satisfied by buttered noodles sprinkled with fake parmesan. I would even order my favourite plain Jane pasta in restaurants. It must have killed my parents to pay so much for buttered noodles sprinkled with cheese my mom could have easily made me at home for pennies. I was the kid at the kitchen table staring down a pile of peas until bed time. My mom had her share of challenges in getting me to try new foods or in trying to sneaking it in when I least expected it … or so she thought.

As a picky eater in recovery I can tell you North America’s future is not doomed to be full of unsophisticated eaters. In the past decade I have reformed my palate to include many foods I would have turned my nose up at as a child. I still hate peas but I like many vegetables now that I would have turned my nose up at as a child. Part of the process of expanding my picky palette was education. Well, actually, a large part of this change happened because of education. Once you learn something, you cannot unlearn it. This is the case for me with genetically modified foods (If you want to learn more about GMOs and why you should avoid that check out this ebook, Why Shouldn’t I Eat GM Foods, by my friend Richard Flook).

Learning the truth about our food system has forced me to say goodbye to many foods I once loved. While Cool Ranch Doritos have always been a favourite, I can’t look past the fact that they are made from genetically modified corn. A vegetable that is grown from a franken-seed that already contains harmful pesticides so that it may be resistant to more pesticides. Many of childhood favourites are now outlaws in my kitchen. It was the truth that set this picky eater free.

I still have a love for chicken fingers and grilled cheese and pizza.  But instead of choosing frozen or processed versions, I prefer to make them from scratch using organic ingredients. I also like to jazz all of them up with different spices and sauces and yes, even those once-dreaded vegetables. I still have a long way to go and many foods to conquer but I wouldn’t say we are doomed to be boring and bland when it comes to our culinary preferences.

I like the idea of calling for the death of the children’s menu and offering young ones a smaller portion of an adult meal.

But let’s not be rash and call for the death of the chicken finger. The chicken finger does not have to be a bland and highly-processed garbage food. If it comes from an ethically-raised chicken that is hand-breaded in your own kitchen it can be a comforting treat. You can make a batch ahead of time and freeze them to give you the same convenience as the store-bought kind only you get the satisfaction of knowing exactly what is on your plate. I double-coat mine in breadcrumbs and bake them on a baking rack lightly coated with olive oil, this way they get the crunch without the fry. I usually toss them in some type of sauce, buffalo being the usual suspect (I can’t help it, I have an addiction to buffalo chicken) and serve them homemade potato wedges and a salad.

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